Common Comorbid Mental Illnesses That Occur With OCD

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a significant anxiety disorder that is chronic and relatively common in the United States. 

OCD is characterized by many different symptoms, though it mainly presents itself through uncontrollable and intrusive thoughts, known as “obsessions,” followed by repetitive behaviors, or “compulsions”.

Although OCD is a severe mental illness to have, other mental illnesses also often occur with it, such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and depression. 

Unfortunately, a dual-diagnosis has the potential to make treatment a bit more severe and complicated sometimes. Having a thorough understanding of comorbid disorders that often occur alongside an OCD diagnosis, however, can contribute to a more clear course of treatment and better recovery odds. 

Comorbidity in mental health treatment is when someone exhibits more than one mental illness at once. For example, anxiety and depression are often jointly diagnosed. Usually, each of these illnesses can either lead to other disorders’ development or feed each other simultaneously. Therefore, all medical and psychological professionals prefer to treat all comorbid diseases at the same time.

Understanding OCD

The term “OCD” frequently occurs in mainstream conversations nowadays. Many people claim they have the Disorder simply because they have “Type A” personalities and are quite organized. However, this is a dangerous way to speak of such a mental illness, considering Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder involves its sufferer experiencing more distress and destruction than someone who prefers to double-check their work or keep a calendar may experience.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental disorder that lies within the category of anxiety disorders. 

Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder exhibit certain common traits like perfectionism and sometimes even superstitiousness. 

Obsessions involve intrusive thoughts, images, and urges that cause significant distress to the individual experiencing them. When it comes down to it, obsessions are thought to stem from some subconscious fears or even a need for control. Some obsessions may include:

  • Fear of germs and contamination
  • Frightening thoughts that occur about harming one’s self or other people
  • A need for symmetry
  • Intrusive, disturbing sexual thoughts
  • Extreme religious beliefs
  • Hoarding

Compulsions are actions, behaviors, and habits that are the direct responses to the fears created by intrusive thoughts and obsessions. 

Some compulsions include:

  • “Checking” behavior, such as someone being consistently late to work from checking whether their door is locked an inappropriate number of times
  • Excessive cleaning or hand washing
  • Praying, or repeating certain words over and over again until one feels calmer
  • Replaying of scenarios in one’s head repetitively
  • Rumination
  • Reassurance-seeking

In general, someone with OCD is unable to control their obsessions and compulsions to the point of extreme distress and detriment. It is at this point that someone may seek help.

Misconceptions About OCD

Although Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can involve an extreme fear of germs and subsequent obsessive hand washing in many cases, not all obsessions and compulsions are the “common” ones discussed frequently. Someone doesn’t need to exhibit stereotypical OCD traits to have OCD. 

Some other types of OCD and OCD-related mental illnesses exist, such as Relationship Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (ROCD). Although not in the DSM-5 (the manual that many psychological professionals use to diagnose mental disorders) another subtype of “Pure O” exists. Pure O is defined as when someone experiences obsessions without acting on them or developing external compulsions.

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OCD and Panic Disorder

Considering OCD is included in the category of anxiety disorders, other anxieties have an enormous potential to occur alongside it. One anxiety disorder is Panic Disorder, where someone experiences panic attacks or subconsciously interprets an unnecessary amount of danger towards real or imagined stimuli. 

Considering many OCD sufferers’ compulsions develop from the fear of their obsessions, it’s not uncommon for them to also experience panic attacks as a result of their thoughts. 

OCD And Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder shares many common symptoms with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, such as constant “checking” behavior. 

BDD is characterized by the unhealthy preoccupation that some people have about their looks – and we’re not just talking about vanity. Those with BDD often hone in on certain flaws they see on their bodies, whether that’s a deformed body part or an imperfect curve. san diego ocd treatment centerMany people with Body Dysmorphia also tend to be intently focused on continually improving their appearance, whether through diets or surgery, as well as asking for reassurance about their looks. Often people with this Disorder will also avoid situations that may reveal their perceived flaws, such as going to parties or other social gatherings. 

Although Body Dysmorphia can contribute to eating disorders, the two illnesses are not exactly the same.

OCD And Depression

OCD and Major Depressive Disorder are known to exist comorbidly. No matter which mental illness develops first, the two can feed incessantly off of one another. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder can cause someone to feel stuck, hopeless, and suffer from low self-esteem – all of which are symptoms of depression.

san diego mental health treatment center for ocd

Not only this, but depressive disorders are speculated to occur due to an imbalance of brain chemicals like Serotonin- the very same Serotonin that many believe is to blame for OCD. 

Other comorbid illnesses can exist with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder than what was mentioned in this article. Professional treatment is needed for someone to recover from any mental illness. However, treatment isn’t the only answer. Those who suffer from OCD and other cognitive diseases must work to better themselves as well, exhibit bravery and resilience, and have a strong willingness to grow.

If you or a friend or family member are suffering from OCD, Contact Solara Mental Health to get treatment today.

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